Chris Young: Sam Allardyce’s first interview says plenty about Sunderland transfer policy

Yann M'Vila
Yann M'Vila
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A sanitised club website appearance provided Sam Allardyce with a comfortable ride in his first interview of the campaign.

Had Allardyce gone before the newspapers, television and radio, there would have been only one topic in town... and for once at this stage of the year, it wouldn’t be transfers.

Allardyce would have been battered by questions over the England job and however experienced the Sunderland manager is as a media operator, it would have made for an uncomfortable hour or so.

The 61-year-old would have been treading a very precarious seesaw between keeping Sunderland fans onside and maintaining his chances of succeeding Roy Hodgson – which has clearly been a long-held ambition.

The England speculation won’t stop while Allardyce is in the Alps with his Sunderland squad.

By the time Allardyce finally goes in front of the microphones – before or after Sunderland’s opening pre-season friendly at Hartlepool on July 20 – the situation may have become clearer (although perhaps not when dealing with the FA).

But while the probing of Allardyce’s ambitions has gone on ice for now, he did give an intriguing insight into current transfer activity and why Sunderland fans are still waiting to herald a first capture of the summer.

Ideally, Sunderland would have had fresh faces boarding the plane to the Alps yesterday, to give Allardyce the maximum chance to integrate new signings prior to the Premier League opener at Manchester City on August 13.

Yet this was a telling point: “I’m basically focusing on the top players that I need for the team this year and waiting patiently for those.”

It’s an understandable policy.

Some supporters might be going stir-crazy at the lack of concrete transfer activity, but Sunderland need additions who instantly improve the standard of the starting XI.

Too often over recent seasons, Sunderland have hoovered up Bosmans or cut-price additions at this stage of the summer, and been left scrambling around at the business end of the window to sign players who actually make a tangible difference.

Those players invariably cost serious dough too and despite the additional £30million or so from the new television deal, a club that has been making £20m annual losses are hardly rolling in cash.

Allardyce does have money at his disposal, but it is not a bottomless pit – certainly not compared to the £31m Crystal Palace have reportedly been able to bid for Christian Benteke.

There has been so much money wasted at Sunderland over recent years that resources now have to be ploughed into those key pieces of the jigsaw.

Allardyce is right, the freebies and loan players can wait, particularly as by the latter stages of the window Sunderland will surely have freed up funds by offloading more of the dead-wood from the wage bill.

What areas will Allardyce actually be focusing on at present?

Re-signing Yann M’Vila has to be a priority for Sunderland given his contribution to the side last season, but a striker won’t be too far behind in the pecking order.

Diafra Sakho is clearly at the top of Sunderland’s hit-list, but that is proving to be a real test of domino effect patience, with West Ham determined to bring in a replacement frontman first.

Although Allardyce also wants to bring in a centre-half, central midfielder and attacking midfielder, right-back is the other imperative capture on the agenda.

Whether or not Sunderland re-sign last season’s loanee DeAndre Yedlin, the Black Cats desperately need a first-choice right-back, with Billy Jones the only other option available.

Addressing those three areas – M’Vila, a striker and right-back – are essential over the next couple of weeks.

Allardyce has to do his talking on the telephone to get those deals done. That’s far more important than any press conferences.